Mikaela Shiffrin 4th in downhill, Sofia Goggia wins; Corinne Suter skis away from crash

Mikaela Shiffrin
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CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — The record chase can wait. Mikaela Shiffrin appeared pleased, though, that for most of the way down the mountain she was faster than Sofia Goggia in a discipline that is far from being her best event.

Shiffrin finished fourth, half a second behind Goggia, the winner, in a downhill race Friday on the course that will be used for skiing at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

The result means that Shiffrin’s pursuit of a record-breaking 83rd World Cup victory will go on for at least another day — leaving her tied with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn for the women’s mark with 82 wins each.

“I don’t really believe that I would get 83 in downhill,” Shiffrin said. “But it’s certainly hard to come down in fourth so close and not think, ’Oh, maybe I could get on the podium tomorrow. The trick for me is to put those thoughts out of my mind.”

Two more races are scheduled in Cortina over the weekend, with another downhill on Saturday followed by a super-G on Sunday.

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Only three of Shiffrin’s 82 wins have come in downhill, an event she races only sparingly. She prefers to concentrate on her favored disciplines of slalom (51 wins) and giant slalom (17 wins).

Goggia, who won gold and silver in downhill at the last two Olympics, respectively, has now won four of the five downhills this season. She finished 0.13 seconds ahead of two-time world champion Ilka Stuhec, and 0.36 ahead of Kira Weidle of Germany.

Shiffrin was faster than Goggia through the first three checkpoints but finished 0.50 behind.

Shiffrin had some trouble landing a jump toward the end of her run, standing up to regain her balance. But overall she seemed satisfied with her performance, smiling and pumping her fist in the finish area.

“I froze and I got more air in the section that you don’t really want to get off the ground,” Shiffrin said. “That was a little bit harsh right on the last turn where you can build speed. So I could maybe be a bit smoother there. … I’ll try to make that adjustment.”

It also appeared that a clip on Shiffrin’s right boot came undone during her run, which might have reduced the control of her skis.

Vonn broke the previous win record, Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s mark of 62 victories, eight years ago in Cortina. Vonn retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short.

Shiffrin is also approaching Ingemar Stenmark’s overall mark — between men and women — of 86 victories. Stenmark competed in the 1970s and 80s.

As usual, Goggia’s season has been make-or-break. She broke two fingers in her left hand during a downhill in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last month, then returned after a quick surgery to win another downhill a day later.

Then she crashed nastily in a super-G last weekend in St. Anton, Austria, and sat out another super-G a day later as a precautionary measure, despite medical tests revealing no damage to her right knee.

But in this race, the Italian was perfect during the technical middle section where others struggled, gathering so much speed that she needed to briefly stick her arms out further down the course to regain her balance after a slight bobble.

When she reached the finish, Goggia seemed to know she had done something special, nodding her head a couple of times as if to say “yes, yes” — even though as the seventh starter, there were still several top favorites still to come down.

“It’s special to win our home race,” Goggia said. “My performance was really solid but still I have something to look at today at the video analysis, so I’ll be really focused for tomorrow.”

One of the other favorites, reigning Olympic champion Corinne Suter, was the victim of an ugly fall toward the end of her run. The Swiss skier fell hard on her left side after losing control during a jump but came to a stop before hitting the safety nets. After being checked out briefly, Suter got up and made it down to the finish on her own.

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada fell after doing the splits at high speed then slid down the mountain and got bumped up into the air, prompting the safety air bag inside her suit to inflate and soften the blow when she landed. She, too, got right back up.

With the 16th downhill win of her career, Goggia tied Katja Seizinger in fifth place on the women’s list for the discipline, which Vonn leads with 43 victories.

Weidle took silver on the same course during the 2021 World Championships.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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